Thursday, October 30, 2008

God looks after drunks

Thank god for Gore Vidal. Here's a snippet from his latest:

October proved to be the cruelest month, for that was the time that Sen. McCain, he of the round, blank, Little Orphan Annie eyes, chose to try out a number of weird lies about Barack Obama ostensibly in the interest of a Republican Party long overdue for burial.

It is a wonder that any viewer survived his furious October onslaught whose craziest lie was that Obama wished to become president in order to tax the poor in the interest of a Democratic Party in place, as he put it in his best 1936 voice, to spend and spend because that's what Democrats always do. This was pretty feeble lying, even in such an age as ours. But it was the only thing that had stuck with him from those halcyon years when Gov. Alfred M. Landon was the candidate of the Grand Old Party, which in those days was dedicated to erasing every policy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, whose electoral success was due to, they thought, Harry Hopkins' chilling mantra, "we shall ... spend and spend and elect and elect." Arguably, the ignorant McCains of this world have no idea what any of this actually signifies; Hopkins' comment is a serious one, and serious matters seldom break through to cliché-ridden minds.

For more juicy Gore, click here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Green Party Candidate

Here is Al Jazeera's Riz Khan interviewing Cynthia McKinney. The question is why can't she be on the ballot. The other question is why haven't you heard of Al Jazeera.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Journalism and helicopter blades

It is hard to believe in a world where 40 some percent of Americans support stupid Old Mac and the perfectly inane Alaskan beauty queen that journalism still takes place. After all, we're used the the "best political team on television": CNN's idiot Wolf Blitzer (was he one of Santa's reindeer?) and the great gurgling comb-over Gergen, and what's the dumb-ass Bush czar of something's name? I can't recall. But, they're the best. Ask them.

And then there's Seymour Hersch, always around, writing in places that my conspiracy theorist friends claim no longer exists. While it's true that most Americans, certainly those screaming insults at Obama at Old Mac's rallies, have never heard of much less read the New Yorker, Hersch is still writing. He's there for the seventeen Americans who still remember how to and actually want to read. Bless him. But like Nader, Chomsky and Moyers, Hersch is seventy-something. After them, what? Wolf and the best team in America? Or VP Sarah? (Does she have a kid named Wolf?)

Here's an excerpt from a recent portrait of Hersch:

"In 1970, after his My Lai story, he addressed an anti-war rally and, on the spur of the moment, asked a veteran to come up and tell the crowd what some soldiers would do on their way home after a day spent moving their wounded boys. With little prompting, the traumatised vet described how they would buzz farmers with their helicopter blades, sometimes decapitating them; they would then clean up the helicopter before they landed back at base. 'That's what war is like,' he says. 'But how do you write about that? How do you tell the American people that?' Still, better to attempt to tell people than to stay feebly silent. What really gets Hersh going - he seems genuinely bewildered by it - is the complicit meekness, the virtual collapse, in fact, of the American press since 9/11. In particular, he disdains its failure to question the 'evidence' surrounding Saddam's so-called weapons of mass destruction. 'When I see the New York Times now, it's so shocking to me. I joined the Times in 1972, and I came with the mark of Cain on me because I was clearly against the war. But my editor, Abe Rosenthal, he hired me because he liked stories. He used to come to the Washington bureau and almost literally pat me on the head and say: "How is my little Commie today? What do you have for me?" Somehow, now, reporters aren't able to get stories in. It was stunning to me how many good, rational people - people I respect - supported going into war in Iraq. And it was stunning to me how many people thought you could go to war against an idea.'"

The article, published in the Guardian, is worth your time. Read it here.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The New Banana Republic?

Here's a excerpt from an article just published in the Monterey County Herald, where Frank Bajak writes:

In a matter of weeks, a Russian naval squadron will arrive in the waters off Latin America for the first time since the Cold War. It is already getting a warm welcome from some in a region where the influence of the United States is in decline.

"The U.S. Fourth Fleet can come to Latin America but a Russian fleet can't?" said Ecuador's president, Rafael Correa. "If you ask me, any country and any fleet that wants can visit us. We're a country of open doors."

The United States remains the strongest outside power in Latin America by most measures, including trade, military cooperation and the sheer size of its embassies. Yet U.S. clout in what it once considered its backyard has sunk to perhaps the lowest point in decades. As Washington turned its attention to the Middle East, Latin America swung to the left and other powers moved in.

The United States' financial crisis is not helping. Latin American countries forced by Washington to swallow painful austerity measures in the 1980s and 1990s are aghast at the U.S. failure to police its own markets.

"We did our homework — and they didn't, they who've been telling us for three decades what to do," the man who presides over Latin America's largest economy, President Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva of Brazil, complained bitterly.

Latin America's more than 550 million people now "have every reason to view the U.S. as a banana republic," says analyst Michael Shifter of the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington. "U.S. lectures to Latin Americans about excess greed and lack of accountability have long rung hollow, but today they sound even more ridiculous."

Read the rest of the article here.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sentence Logic

When I was a child in St. Joseph's Catholic school, I learned the schematic wonders of diagramming sentences. I truly loved the work. Years later, however, I was taught that such exercises were foolish: that language wouldn't be harnessed so neatly and that sentence diagrams don't tell us much really.

But, now I'm wondering. What would Chomsky or my third grade teacher say about this amazing sentence by VP Palin:

"I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, families we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority is to defend the American people."

Here's Kitty Burns Florey's attempt to sort it out:

Here's a link to Florey's article published in Slate.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Heels are On!

The stakes are getting higher. VP Sarah is getting tougher. First the guns and now the rough talk. "For me, the heels are on, the gloves are off," she told Florida Republicans on Monday. That's right, heels. I'll bet the Florida dinosaurs cheered--as well they should have. We've seen beauty queens in public life plenty of times. But Sarah's most recent declaration suggests something far more daring. We all know what it means to take the gloves off, but when have we heard a politician vow to put on her heels for a fight? This is no wimpy peace/love/couscous candidate. No more Miss Alaska. Sarah's rockin here. Stiletto in the eye Sarah. Ninja Sarah. Supervixen Sarah. Wow. And you thought the governator was tough.

Think of this: we could have the first American dominatrix in the White House, giving the very notion of vice president a nice tweak. Cheney was vicious, Sarah promises real vice.

You can google your own visual. Or a find an appropriate Winston Churchill remark. Or imagine poor Jefferson looking down from his monument.